Brian Dean is the Founder of BackLinko and runs backlinko.com, a blog dedicated to sharing traffic generation strategies. Backlinko provides actionable information to grow businesses online as well as educating on how to implement SEO.
A Quick Preview of the Podcast:
- Brian’s proven formula for content creation (and getting it shared)
- How to tactfully promote your content without using bribery
- The number one tools that will help you find the right people to share your content
To See These Tactics In Action:
To See The Transcript:
Tim:Welcome to Conversion Cast. The only podcast that gets to the heart of the metrics. Now here’s another data driven case study.
What is up fellow marketer? Thanks for being here for a new eipsoide of ConversionCast. Now before we kick this episode off, I wanted to give you the heads up for a webinar that I’m doing this upcoming Thursday at 3:00 p.m. eastern noon pacific. The webinar is completely free and I’m going to be sharing with you the four most important pages on your website and how to tweak them to quickly grow your email list in the next six months. To reserve your spot on the free webinar, all you need to do is text the world LeadPages to 38470, again to reserve your spot on this upcoming free webinar, just text LeadPages all one word to 38470 and I’ll see you on the webinar.
With that said, today’s episode is about the power of a well-researched, well-written blogpost. Here at LeadPages, our blog has consistently been one of the most effective marketing tools we’ve ever created. It allows us to create tons of value, provide lots of opportunities for engagement with our audience and quickly grow our email list. Now full transparency our writers on the team are absolutely amazing. They crush it. But me, writing is definitely not my strong suit. So if you were to say to me, Tim, you should write a blogpost that will generate lots of social attention and get lots of people to opt-in and all that kind of stuff, I might start violently shaking. It’s a good thing that today’s episode is here to help folks like me and even if you’re more like the writers of our blog, there are going to be some amazing tips for you in this episode.
Our guest is Brian Dean the founder of BackLinko.com which is an awesome blog. It focuses on traffic generation strategies and all of the [0:01:59] [Indiscernible] that go along with them. You’re going to love this epic blogpost writing strategy so make sure you listen on to discover how he generated over 5000 social shares on one post. Just a quick reminder, join me on the webinar this Thursday at three pm eastern by texting LeadPages to 38470 and I will see you there. I’m Tim Page, the conversion educator here at LeadPages. This is ConversionCast and here is Brian Dean from Backlinko.com.
Hey Brian, how is it going today?
Brian:I’m doing well, how are you Tim?
Tim:I’m doing great. Thanks so much for hopping on the call and sharing a really unique strategy that I’m excited to kind of share with our listeners today. So thanks for being here.
Brian:Sure. Thanks for having me.
Tim:Awesome. So the first thing is you know, I really want to – this is a technique that you’ve been using for a lot of your content and you’ve been helping a lot of people do. But the first thing is I really want to break this down to kind of one place that you’ve used this and so can you share with us results from one particular case study in which you’ve used this tactic?
Brian:Sure. Well the one that really stands out in my mind is about a year ago I published a post called Google’s 200 Ranking Factors The Complete List. Of course, it’s not an official list or ranking factor. It’s a lot of people’s best guesses. Some people it’s like sort of SEO nerd conspiracy theory.
Brian:But it’s kind of the best we’ve got in terms of curating the opinions of people of what we think Google uses to rank pages which the confirmed they use 200 so I didn’t totally make that number up. But no one was able to really figure out what those 200 were. So when I looked online for content that was on the topic of Google’s ranking factors, I know there’s a few that did really, really well particularly one called Von’s SEO Checklist. Basically what that was was his attempt to do it. But he only hit 118 of the 200 and he sort of gave up. As I can go into later I realized why he stopped at 118 and it’s basically because it will drive you crazy trying to come up with 200. It was something that I almost gave up like a thousand times.
Anyway, I had that piece of content that I saw already performed really well in terms of links, in terms of social shares. It’s just basically but it was really outdated. It didn’t have all 118. So I decided to step up the list to 200 and improve it and a bunch of other ways that you can go over later. It was a massive, massive success. After I actually got out and promoted it.
When I first published it I didn’t have any following at all. So really no one saw it. But to date it’s that post has received over a hundred and eight thousand unique visitors and has been a huge catalyst for the growth of my site. In fact after someone read that post they actually invited me to speak at this big event in London about what I had written. So I went to speak at an event just from that one post.
So the conference organizers saw it and invited me to speak. So a lot of good things came from this particular strategy for me and that’s just one instance.
Tim:Yeah that’s amazing and so tell me one more time what were the results from this? What was the traffic? What were the kind of metrics that you were trying to measure?
Brian:Sure. So I have a few different I mean traffic is one of the best. So in terms of traffic it’s brought in over a hundred thousand unique visitors just that post.
Brian:You think about that I mean a lot of sites don’t get that much traffic in a year.
Brian:And that post has gotten 100,000. Also in terms of link, links we don’t have to go crazy in SEO but probably a lot of listeners know that links are really important for SEO and that page has hundreds of referring demands. Because every time some references the fact that Google has internal ranking factors, a lot of times they reference that post as a link. So it’s brought a ton of authority to my site. That post itself ranks for thousands of long tail keywords just because there’s so much text on it and it’s so authoritative that it just sucks off a lot of Google long tail traffic. As soon as those are shared, I don’t know the exact numbers I haven’t looked in a little bit but it has well over 2000 tweets.
Brian:You know, a thousand Facebook likes so and it’s brought in a ton of leads mostly actually this is an [0:06:17] [Indiscernible] talk about this but thanks to a strategy that I’ve been using in conjunction with LeadPages I’ve put a Leadbox on there and it’s helped quite a bit for conversions. Because actually one of the lowest converting page on my site and because I made some tweaks to it to make it convert better, it’s also brought in hundreds of lead. So in terms of results in that sense basically it’s been a great thing. I mean [0:06:41] [Indiscernible] that came out of it except the fact that it almost lost my mind.
Brian:But if you don’t count that, then it was 100% success.
Tim:Yeah that’s huge. I mean that’s really incredible results for just one blogpost and I think the thing that’s going to be great about this is that we’ll be able to break down how you did this because this wasn’t like something that you were just like oh I’m going to write a blogpost and I’m going to write a blogpost about you know, Google’s 200 you know, ranking factors. Like this was something that was kind of calculated and it’s something that you now use with all of your blogposts. So let’s just kind of – before we do that, the one thing we haven’t done yet is talk about who you are and what you do. So can you just briefly tell us who you are and what you do?
Brian:Sure. So I’m Brian Dean. I run a site called Backlinko.com which is a site that focuses on SEO but is a really – the really USP of the blog is that it gives people actionable information they can use to grow their online business.
Tim:Awesome. I love it. Okay. So here’s where it’s time I think to dig into this, this strategy so tell us a little bit about kind of the strategy that got you to be able to write this blog post and have it be so successful?
Brian:Sure. Well I called the strategy the skyscraper technique which kind of sounds like a wrestling move or something.
Brian:It’s a little bit weird sounding but you’ll see why I call it that in a bit. Basically it’s a three-step process and the benefit of using the skyscraper technique versus any other sort of approach to content creation and content promotion at a scene is that it starts you off in the right foot. It starts you off from a proven framework. So you don’t really have to guess. I’m sure you’ve seen this Tim and I’ve experienced this and I still experience it to a certain extent. When I’m going to publish something, you get this sort of feeling that you’re a little bit scared of what can happen. You’re putting yourself out there in a sense and you don’t know if it’s going to flop if it’s going to do great. There’s a lot of unknown variables. You could hit publish and then some crazy news happens.
Brian:Draw that attention away from your post you know what I mean?
Brian:Another country invades another country.
Brian:The next thing you know, no one cares about your post. So there’s always a little bit of reticence when you publish but I have much less of that now because now that when I publish using the skyscraper technique, I know that at least it has a great chance of doing well. There’s no guarantees in life and there definitely aren’t any guarantees in blogging. But this is the closest you’re going to get to knowing that there’s an audience for what you’re writing and it’s not something that you think people might like.
Brian:So there’s basically three steps to skyscraper technique. Each one does take a bit of work and happening over exactly how to execute each one. But like I said the advantage of doing this versus publishing all the time and just publishing kind of like you said about the 200 ranking factors instead of what they are is that you just get all the benefits that I mentioned. So do you want me to break down the three steps Tim?
Tim:Yeah I think that would be great.
Brian:any questions. Okay. So the first step is you want to find constant in your industry or in a closely related industry that’s already performed well. So you can measure that in 1001 different ways. The metrics I like to use that you can measure but it’s not on your site are things like social share, the number and the quality of the links pointed to that page and the comments. So the other things like traffic you can’t really measure that stuff because that not on your site. But those usually give you a pretty good idea of how well the content is performed.
If you see one piece of content that has 300 tweets you know, 88 comments and 20 high quality links and another one with one comment, 30 tweets and two links, you know the first one has done a lot better. I mean you don’t really need to go into someone’s Google Analytics to find that out. So that’s really important. So once you see that piece of content or a few pieces of the content that had done really well, your next step is to take that idea what was it that you know, made it perform really well and then create something even better. So you want to improve what you found and there’s a bunch of different ways you could do that.
The third step is to promote your content to the people that already share the content that you found in step #1. That’s really the most important part is a lot of people skip that part and actually going to get the word out about what you just created.
Tim:Yeah that’s for whatever reason to me that’s the one that I’m like my interest is so peaked. Like I really want to know how you would do something like that but obviously we’re going to have to kind of build this strategy as we go. So where’s the best place to go to find content that’s already performing well? Do you have kind of go-to places that you go to? I mean do you Google? What’s the best way to find that?
Brian:Definitely. So there’s a couple of different strategies that I go to. There’s probably like ten but I’d say three give me 90% of the best pieces of content for this strategy. The first is Google’s top ten. So it’s not really interesting, it’s not like a cool underground tool but if something has cracked the top ten of Google for a moderately competitive keyword you know it’s done well right? It’s probably accumulated links, it’s probably accumulated social shares, it probably has a lot of activity around it that Google likes to measure and it’s probably on a domain that tends to publish quality stuff. So with all that the Google’s top ten is a goldmine and despite people talk a lot about Google’s preference for fresh content, how they love to publish content that’s new if you look at a lot of really competitive keywords a lot of times the content is really old which means that one of the ways you can improve it in step #2 is to freshen it up and liven it up. So Google’s top ten is great.
Another tool that I highly recommend is called Buzz Sumo. So BuzzSumo.com is a free tool. The only disadvantage of using Buzz Sumo is that it only goes for the last – it only looks at content from the last six months.
Brian:So basically what Buzz Sumo does you put in a keyword like let’s say you wanted to write something about the skyscraper technique about weight loss. You put the keyword weight loss into Buzz Sumo and it will show you what content around the web has done well in terms of social shares around that topic. It will show you tweets, Pinterests, Google+, LinkedIn and you can even sort them by different social networks if one happens to be more important for your industry than others.
So that’s a great way to see okay this content just crushed this six months ago but I see that it’s not that great. They could be improved upon and that’s what you move on to in step #2. The other strategy that I really like is a tool called Open Site Explorer which is a tool. What you do is you put a competitor URL into Open Site Explorer. It doesn’t have to be a competitor. It’s a site in your industry that tends to put out good stuff. And then you click on this top pages tab. So when you click on the top pages tab, it basically shows you the pages you on that site that have accumulated the most links. So you put LeadPages.net into there, click on top pages. Besides the homepage and some other pages that probably a lot of people link to, you’ll find the content on LeadPages blog that has performed best and that will give you a good idea about what’s already done well.
Tim:Yeah that’s a really cool tool. I like that. So you find a post that’s performing really well and then you improve it. I mean so what things do you improve? Beyond just freshening it up it might be kind of outdated but let’s say it’s not outdated or let’s say you do update it but it doesn’t require much what are some other ways that you could improve that content?
Brian:Sure. Well one way is to make it better designed. I find a lot of people sleep on content design. For me content design is huge and Tim someone who works at a company like LeadPages they don’t have to tell you how important that is.
Brian:And you know, content design makes or breaks your content. There was this interesting study that came out probably about six or seven years ago now and they had a bunch of people come into a lab and they looked at one of two websites the researchers created and the information was about lowering high blood pressure. So it’s health information. So one group saw site A and the other group saw site B. Even though the content was exactly the same, the difference in the level of trust between the two was statistically significant. So just based on the design one had a professional design and one had the ugly design people didn’t trust the information even though the content was exactly the same.
Then when they asked the people what was it about the site that made you say you know, I don’t trust this design 96% cited design reasons.
Brian:And only 4% cited the content itself.
Tim:I love it.
Brian:So design is massively important for web content and that study really drives it home. Because you think about 94% of the reasons were design related. That’s just an unbelievable amount and I can guarantee that no one listening myself included puts 94% of their content effort into design. It’s probably more like 2%.
Brian:So a lot of times when you look at older content or even content that’s pretty new it may just be a plain old blog post and you can easily bump up the perceived value and put your content on a higher level than theirs by design. So for example the 200 ranking factors post that I mentioned earlier the [0:15:49] [Indiscernible] older one it was really ugly. So in this case just by publishing a blogpost on my blog with the design like it is it would have been better.
Brian:But I also went the extra mile by I hired a designer on Elance to make custom banners for each section. So it’s broken down into like domain level factor, site level, penalties, kind of all the different categories of Google ranking factors. Each one has a nice little banner. Nothing great. It costs about 30 bucks but it really makes it stand out and immediately adds an element of professionalism. You’d be surprised how many people don’t read your content before they share it. So when your design is really nice, you get that nice first impression and they’re much more likely to share it. Because so few people invest in content design it’s one of the easiest ways for your content to go above theirs. The other thing you do is make it more thorough. So like I said, the Von’s got a dimension only had 118. Mine had 200. That’s one way to just you know, you can just tack on a bunch of tips.
So let’s say that you saw something that’s like 25 tips for weight loss, you create 50 or 100 or 150 and I found that those like a hundred plus type of content tend to do really well because people have the sense of awe. Joana Burger who’s a researcher at University of Pennsylvania found that a sense of awe was one of the main reasons that people share content online. So if you have like a 150, 200 reasons to do whatever 200 ways to burn fat that’s really going to get in people’s heads. They’re going to go wow this unbelievable and before they’re heard a word they’re already thinking about how they can share it. You don’t have to necessarily create it longer to be more thorough, you can also flesh out the points. So let’s say you found this article that’s like ten tips for weight loss and it did really well, you could just you know, also include ten tips. You don’t have to go to a hundred and just make each one very, very detailed. I do that a lot. That type of post tends to perform exceptionally well in every industry. Because what you’re doing is you’re taking a traditional list post that does okay usually. You’re giving people all the steps they need in each item. So let’s say item #1 is like eat breakfast, if you just put that as eat breakfast no one is going to do it.
Brian:And they’re going to be like oh yeah I’ve heard it like a thousand times. But if you include some meaty stuff in there about like what is – you know, what roadblocks people have for eating breakfast, they’re too busy they’re not hungry, and you can include some really detailed stuff in there almost like a mini blogpost within it. That’s another way to make it more thorough. If I can get one piece of advice it will be to make your list close like that because it always consistently performed best for me. I even have a name from it. They called it expand a list post. So you can take a regular list post that you found, turn it into an expanded list post. That’s another way to make it more thorough and therefore better.
Tim:I think it probably goes without saying it you know, at least to this audience that’s listening to ConversionCast right now is that you know you’re not talking about plagiarizing, taking a post, reposting it and like adding some new words. You’re talking about taking the concept you know, the basic idea of the content and really making it your own.
Brian:Exactly, exactly. So if for example with the Von’s ranking factors, post, I didn’t just copy the 118 and then add 72 and call it a day. I wish, it made my life a lot easier but yeah the idea is really not to take the content itself so much. It’s the idea behind it, why did it do so well and then create something similar. And similar is as you know, however close you want it to be. I prefer to stay in – err on the side of not too similar so you’re not getting any sort of like copying issues. You could always make it your own. Yeah but it’s a good point to make Tim because I guess the way to described it it was sort of like you take the ten and then you add ten and you’re good.
Even if you like someone has the ten tips for weight loss, you obviously don’t want to use those same ten tips even you rewrite it. Ideally you would maybe take one at the most. Otherwise, you know, you are talking about copying other people’s stuff.
Tim:Yeah and our audience is smart enough to know better but I just wanted to say it so that it was said absolutely.
Brian:Yeah and the way I described it I can see why it would come off like that so.
Tim:[Laughs] All right.
Tim:So with that said the next kind of step in this process is promoting to people that were kind of – that had already shared it and are already promoting it and for whatever reason I’m just I think this is so awesome and so unique. So tell me kind of how you’ve done this. I mean you know, what’s the best way to do this without seeming spammy and without I guess without kind of going to people who will maybe feel like oh this is already the same repurposed content?
Brian:Right. Well there’s two different strategies basically that I use. One is more focused on getting links and the other is more focused on getting social shares and also getting your content in front of the people who have the ability to share.
Brian:So I always leave it out to the person. I never email people on hard sell but the promotion that you do is email based. So for me content promotion equals email. There’s – you can buy Twitter ads, you can buy Facebook ads, you can boost your stuff, I’ve tried all that stuff. Nothing works even close as super targeted email content promotion.
Brian:So let me break down the two sort of strategies that I use with the skyscraper technique. The first is to try to get people to just see it and hopefully share on social media and you want to find influential people. So the easiest way to do that is to use the aforementioned Buzz Sumo. So Buzz Sumo you can put in a keyword and see what contents perform well but another cool feature that tool I have no sensation with them it’s just a nice tool. But you can put in the URL of the content that you found in step #1 and it will show you exactly who shared that on Twitter.
Brian:Think about how powerful that is.
Brian:You put it, you take the URL of a content that’s now inferior to yours put it into Buzz Sumo and you can see who shared it and just export that list in excel spreadsheet. So what I do is I export that list, I clean it up, get rid of it you know, spam accounts. People have like two followers and then I find their email address. The way I do that is I use this tool called Linksy.Me which I guess you’ll up in the show notes.
Brian:It’s called Linksy.Me email checker and this is sort of like use at your own risk or —
Tim:Yeah right. Right.
Brian:–maybe it’s not the right term but it’s more like it’s with great power comes great responsibility. It’s more like Uncle Ben advice. So you put in your first name and your last name. You put in the first name and the last name of the person that already shared on Twitter and the domain name. So I actually reached to Clay from LeadPages using this and anyway.
Brian:So I put it in there and what it does is it generates I don’t know like 50 possible emails for that person and finds out that there’s a gravatar of account associated with that person. If there is, it shows you the gravatar image and their email address.
Brian:So then what you do is you find the email for all of those people and then I email them saying hey I’ve noticed that you’ve shared this piece of content on Twitter, I just want to give you a heads up that I publish something similar. Here it is in case you want to check it out. So there’s no hard sell, I don’t ask them to share it. The idea is that the content should sell itself and that just getting in front of people’s eyeballs, the right people’s eyeballs is enough to get it out there. So actually for every – the last post that I published I think I emailed 250 people before I publish it letting them know what’s coming out using this exact same strategy. So you can use it after the post comes out or you can use it before. It’s up to you. I prefer to use it before because then you’re not sending someone a link in the first email which I think is kind of bad form. So I like to just give them a heads up that it’s going to come out and say if you want to check it out let me know. If they don’t reply I never email them again and if they do I send them a link and then —
Tim:Yeah –sorry I think that’s the way that I would go if I were to do that is to email them without a link. I think that you’re right that is much better form. So do you get a lot of complaints from people doing this? Because it is a little bit on the edge?
Brian:It is. Now I’m not going to lie to you. This is not tweeting and hoping for the best.
Brian:This is getting in there, getting out there, hustling emailing 250 people. Like this is no joke but the fact is that to get your content noticed and unless you already have a huge list or a huge following there’s no other way to do it period. There’s no other way that I know of anyway and I’ve tried everything. I’ve had the best success from this. Now I have not gotten any complaints from this one. The next thing I’ll tell you did get some complaints and I could tell you how to circumvent that. For this, it’s really such a soft thing and you’re only emailing them once and that’s really huge. I know a lot of people who are in link building in SEO they really say the follow-up is huge. Like you have to follow up three or four times before you stop emailing someone. For me I would never do that. That’s just not my nature and I don’t want my business to be like someone who’s just bothering someone who’s already ignored me.
So when you send her an email you’re basically saying I know you shares something similar here is something even better. You don’t have to put in those words.
Brian:Here you go. Now I’ve found that the number one response I get from people is thank you.
Brian:Because those people are interested in it. I mean it’s like Tim, you know, if you like the Beatles and I was like dude, I found this awesome track never released before, track of the Beatles and I emailed the mp3 to you. You wouldn’t be like this is fab. You’d be like dude, this is great thank you right?
Brian:So it’s the same idea. These people are interested in the topic and you just create something awesome and you send it to them. The number one response I get by far is thank you and so far I haven’t received one complaint using this, the first strategy. The second strategy is very similar. I think the only reason I’ve received complaints in the second strategy is because I’ve scaled it a lot more.
Brian:And just inevitably you run into some people who had a bad day.
Brian:With the first one I’ve set up thousands of this. I’ve never received one person.
Brian:And it’s because it’s such a soft sell, would you like to check it out. It can just – if they don’t like it they can ignore it.
Brian:If they do want to check it out, they reply. So it’s really leaving it up to them and I never follow up so it’s not really spamming. The second strategy is super similar and I know I say complaints but it’s also been like less than a tenth of a percent of people.
Brian:So it’s not like people get upset if you do this.
Brian:So the second strategy is more about the link building. So the first one is to try to give your content a little viral push. You get it in front of a bunch of people who have the ability to share it and have already shown a propensity to share something really similar on social media. So rather than just blasting emails to random people, these are the best people that you can possibly email. Then the second step is to find people who link to that content which is sometimes it’s a totally different ballgame. So you can use a tool like Open Site Explore, I prefer a tool called 8HF.com.
Brian:You put in a URL into HF or Open Site Explore and find out who will link to that content that you found in step #1. Then what you do is it’s very similar. You email them and say hey I found your content today I know it’s linked to content X. I just want to give you a heads-up that I also love that content and I create something similar called content Y. It might be worth a mention in your post.
Brian:Because you’re not really hard selling them you can also do it where you don’t send an email in the first when you say I create something similar do you want to check it out, you can also do that. My conversion rate is like 11%.
Tim:Oh wow that’s actually fantastic.
Brian:Yeah. Because email outreach if you do email outreach link building it’s about 2% or 3%.
Brian:It’s so high simply because you’re reaching out to people who have already linked to something extremely similar and now you’re showing them something better. So the sell of adding a link to also yours is easy and it’s not like you’re trying, you’re asking them to take down other link, you just ask them to add yours and in no –and my experience of it, I’ve never had anyone take down a link and replace it with mine. It’s always been in addition to. So you don’t have to worry about the other person getting mad at you like you’re going out and trying to get their links removed or something like that. Because you’re not asking for that nor does anyone do that. They just add your link to the page. It’s a beautiful thing. That’s – when I use this strategy in the Google ranking practice post that particular step #3 the link building one increased my search engine traffic by over 100% so I doubled it in two weeks.
Brian:Just by doing that. That’s all I did for SEO. I didn’t publish anything new, I didn’t build any more links just that. Because those links are super high quality they’re editorially replaced by people who’ve decided that it’s worth linking to. Nothing spammy about it. That’s really an incredible thing and that’s when I decided I’m going to do this for pretty much every post I publish.
Tim:Yeah that’s awesome. I think this is a great place to stop because people really if they want to get you know, if they want to post you know, a post that’s going to get a lot of attention we’ve got a lot of things that they can do here. Kind of start to finish to be able to do that. If anybody wants to check this out and kind of get this in you know, with all these links and of course broken down in a format that’s really easy to follow along with you can head over to ConversionCast.com/SkyscraperDownload. So ConversionCas.com/SkyscraperDownload or of course you can go to ConversionCast.com and check it out. It will be right there on the website. So Brian, thanks so much man. I really appreciate you coming on and sharing this. This has been a really cool way to generate obviously that gets great results. So thanks again for being here.
Brian:Sure. Thanks for having me Tim.
Tim:Okay. I’ve said it a couple times now but I need to say it just one more time because I really want you to be there. So this Thursday 3:00 p.m. Eastern noon pacific. I’m going to be doing that webinar on the four most important pages in your online business and you need to be there. You can reserve your spot quickly and easily wherever you are by texting LeadPages to 38470. Again just type the word LeadPages into your mobile phone and text it to 38470 to reserve your spot. I’ll see you on Thursday and we’ll see you on the next episode of ConversionCast.
Listen To Discover The Strategy BackLinko Used To Generate Traffic And Social Credibility